Around 5.3 billion devices with Bluetooth devices are at risk of a newly identified malware attack.

Almost every device now has the support of Bluetooth. And because those devices can be paired to other devices effortlessly, Bluetooth has made t easier for hackers to attack, according to the researchers at Armis Labs.  The attack method, which they’re calling BlueBorne, is particularly serious because it can spread without the victim doing anything or noticing it.

In many cases, malware relies on people clicking on the link they shouldn’t have or downloading the virus itself. With BlueBorne, all hackers need to do is spread malware when victims’ devices’ Bluetooth is turned on, said Nadir Izrael, Armis’ chief technology officer.

And once one device gets infected, the malware can spread to other devices nearby with the Bluetooth turned on. By spreading over the airwaves, BlueBorne is “highly infectious,” Armis Labs said.

“We’ve run through scenarios where you can walk into a bank and it basically starts spreading around everything,” Izrael said.

Ben Seri, Armis Labs’ head of research, thinks that BlueBorne will lead to a comparable huge outbreak. In few trials of testing BlueBorne, researchers were able to develop botnets and install ransomware using Bluetooth, all under the area of most protection.

“Imagine there’s a WannaCry on Bluetooth, where attackers can deposit ransomware on the device, and tell it to find other devices on Bluetooth and spread it automatically,” said Michael Parker, the company’s vice president of marketing.

BlueBorne is a set of eight zero-day vulnerabilities that Armis Labs founded. Zero-day vulnerabilities are security defects that are detected before developers have any chance to fix them. That sort of exploit allows hackers perform malware remotely, steal data and assume to be a safe network as a “man in the middle” attack.

It achieves this by taking advantage of how your Bluetooth uses tethering to share data, the company said. It’s capable of spreading through “improper validation,” Izrael said. The vulnerability attacks devices on most operating systems, including those run by Google, Microsoft and Apple.

The three companies have delivered patches for the vulnerability. Apple declared that BlueBorne is not a problem for its mobile operating system, iOS 10, or later, however, Armis noted that all iOS devices with 9.3.5 or older versions are vulnerable. Microsoft released a patch for its computers back in July, and anybody who updated would be protected automatically, a spokesman said. Google said Android partners got the patch in early August, but it depends on the carriers to release the updates. Pixel devices have already installed the updates.

Out of the 2 billion devices using Android, approximately 180 million are running on versions that won’t be patched, according to Armis.

Of the likely impacted devices, Armis Labs predicted that almost 40 percent are not going to be patched. That’s more than 2 billion devices that will be left vulnerable to attacks, they warned.

“We’re looking at a forever-day scenario for many of these devices,” Parker said.

You can turn off your Bluetooth to stay safe from attacks if you won’t receive the patch, Armis advised.


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